5 Big Ideas In Education That Don't Work

Anya Kamenetz, NPR Ed, Jan 14, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When you say things "don't work" you have some idea of what it would look like if they "worked". In education, however, this definition of an outcome has remained elusive. In simplistic terms, "worked" might mean "got better grades", but according to this article "setting achievement standards" isn't one of the things that works. One might define "worked" as "grew relative to one's previous state", but this implies a direction of growth, which is thus far undefined. Many people prefer growth toward specific "content knowledge", but I think that's only because it's easier to measure (and standardize). Measurement against content knowledge fails, however, when evaluating class size, because the benefit of smaller class size is to personalize the direction of growth toward student interests and inclinations. Similarly with spending; wouldn't "what works" depend on how that money is spent? All this could have been discussed in this article, but wasn't. Pity, as the end result is the generation of misinformation rather than knowledge.

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